Tokyo Olympics bronze medalists, – the Indian hockey team, has given it back to the Britishers by announcing that neither its men’s nor women’s team will be participating in the Commonwealth Games (CWG) to be held in Birmingham, in 2022. Hockey India has taken the stand amidst the vaccine racism row with the UK government and also a day after England pulled out of the Junior World Cup, to be held in Bhubaneswar in November.
In a letter to Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra, shared by Prasar Bharti, Hockey India (HI) chief Gyanendro Ningombam cited the ‘discriminatory restrictions’ that are ‘biased against India’ as an additional reason to pull out of the CWG, the primary reason being an Olympic qualification at stake in the Asian Games, scheduled to be held immediately after the CWG.
Indian Hockey Teams pull out of Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham to focus on Asian Games.
— Prasar Bharati News Services पी.बी.एन.एस. (@PBNS_India) October 5, 2021
The publicised letter read, “You will appreciate that the Asian Games is the Continental qualification event for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games and keeping the priority of the Asian Games in mind, Hockey India can not risk any members of the Indian teams contracting COVID-19 during the Commonwealth Games,”
Talking about the vaccine discrimination, the HI chief added, “It is pertinent to mention that due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, England have issued guidelines that 10 days quarantine is required (for) Indian arrivals in England even for those who are fully vaccinated since unfortunately Indian vaccinations are not yet recognized by the English government.”
He added: “Such discriminatory restrictions were not imposed on Indian athletes and officials during the recent Tokyo Olympic Games and this 10 days quarantine requirement for vaccinated sportspersons will affect their performances. We feel these restrictions are biased against India and term it as very unfortunate.”
The CWG is scheduled to take place in Birmingham from July 28 to August 8 and the pulling out of one of the top teams of the world will take the sheen out of the tournament.
What Do the UK’s New Rules Say?
Reported by TFI, the United Kingdom, still stuck in its colonial hangover, recently passed a confounding rule stating that Indian travelers who had received both doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca developed Covishield vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), will be considered unvaccinated. To add insult to injury, the rule adds that double vaccinated Indians will have to undergo mandatory hard quarantine for 10 days.
The new rules became operational on October 4. To whitewash its racism and xenophobia, the British government described the move as an attempt by the UK to change the current “red, amber, green traffic light system” to a single red list of countries and “simplify travel measures” for arrivals from around the world.
However, India under PM Modi retaliated in a ‘tit for tat’ situation, and announced that British nationals arriving in India, irrespective of their vaccination status, will have to undergo 10 days of mandatory quarantine from October 4 as part of the Covid protocol.
As reported by TFI, the EU in June had denied vaccine passports to those inoculated with Covishield – and home-grown Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. Miffed by the discriminatory behaviour of the top European body, the government categorically stated that it will not recognize the EU’s digital Covid certificate until it recognizes Indian vaccines Covishield and Covaxin in the certificate.
Within 24 hours of showing its might and issuing a stern warning to the EU that New Delhi will put its traveling citizens in mandatory quarantine if they touchdown in India, the EU nations surrendered before the Modi government.
Hockey India’s bold move to pull out of a quadrennial event, a year in advance ought to teach the UK a lesson. India didn’t start the row but it sure is taking it to the endgame.